Imagine you’re playing a guitar. Where do you see yourself? As the lead guitarist in the dazzling strobes of a rock gig? Jamming in a blues band? Strumming for a singalong round a camp fire? Or maybe in a concert hall playing a Bach transcription to a totally focused audience?
Guitars and guitarists abound in our media society, popping up in myriad everyday contexts. The threshold is low to taking up the guitar; practising is rewarding and the goals may be ambitious. With just an elementary proficiency we can make music with others, but at the other extreme lie adoration, fame and virtuosity. Role models exist for all.
Its versatility is undoubtedly just one of the reasons why the guitar has established such a visible role in the world; in a way it has become the paradigmatic instrument of contemporary Western society. Playing the guitar embodies many of today’s fundamental values, such as sociability, success and supreme mastery. Rock guitar, in particular, is often very showy but also highly technical, and a clear hierarchy prevails within the band; these things are again typical of the present day and age.
It must, however, be remembered that the media hype surrounding the (electric) guitar is only one aspect of the instrument. The adaptability of the guitar and innovative musicians have quietly been inspiring composers to write concert music, jazz and other new repertoire, some of it unlike any that has gone before. And the guitar itself still has a relatively short history. Who knows what may lie ahead in the hands of inventive makers?
This issue marks the transition to a new era for the editorial staff of the FMQ. Merja is venturing into pastures new, to be replaced as Editor-in- Chief by Anu Ahola, for many years our editor and a contributor to the journal. For our role models in this time of change we might well bear in mind the fine guitarists featured in this issue; pressing on with a respect for tradition, honing our techniqtechnique and seeking out paths that have never been trodden before.
Translation: Susan Sinisalo